School of Nursing

June 18, 2020

Healthcare will benefit from the Dreamers

About 650,000 people today saw their futures returned to them when the Supreme Court ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program will remain in place, at least for the immediate future.

Some of those people were 10-year-olds in 2012 when President Obama issued the executive memorandum that created DACA. Today, they are students training to be healthcare professionals—the people who will take care of you and those you care about when the next pandemic strikes. Some of them are our students. Some of them are alive today only because they had access to healthcare as a result of the risks their parents took to bring them to this country. Inspired by that experience, these young people are committed to being the next generation of nurses, doctors, and medical researchers. Given the opportunity, they will serve the communities in which they live; they will serve this country; they will serve the world.

Our mission as a school of nursing is to educate the nurses and researchers who will improve the health of all people, everywhere. It is a mission built on a foundation of equity and compassion. DACA aligns with our mission. Our mission aligns with DACA. DACA is compassionate, caring, and practical. DACA recognizes that those who were children when they entered the country and have spent most of their lives here are culturally, linguistically, emotionally, and economically linked to this country and are an integral part of what makes it great. They deserve to be freed from the tyranny of deportation for a crime they did not commit.

Today, all of the DACA-eligible young people are vulnerable. They are vulnerable psychologically and physically to the stress of living under the constant threat of deportation. They are concerned about not only their own futures, but those of their family members. The fear of discovery and deportation prevents many—too many—from seeking the healthcare they need, which puts not only the individuals but also the communities in which they live at risk.

While the court’s ruling was positive, there was a warning embedded in it by Chief Justice Roberts. “We do not decide whether DACA or its rescission are sound policies,” he wrote. The Chief Justice is warning us that this was strictly a procedural decision based on the administration’s failure to make certain assessments prior to ending the program. Today’s decision does not bar the administration from trying again to do what should not be done.

Vigilance is necessary. DACA is not a law; it’s an executive branch memorandum issued by President Obama after Congress failed to adopt the DREAM Act. The latter would have provided a path to citizenship, which DACA does not.

Someday, the dream of Dreamers will come true. Healthcare and the country will both benefit.